Edith Wharton & The Mount

Recently while I was visiting with the Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts, I took a break from getting my fitness on for a short field trip to The Mount, the former estate of Edith Wharton.

Edith was an unusual person right from the start; born "Pussy" Jones into the American Aristocracy in 1862, and went on to be an accomplished novelist, essayist, travel writer and interior designer. She and her family lived in New York City and summered in Rhode Island. They also traveled back and forth to Europe many times so that Edith became fluent in French, German and Italian. It is said that her family was so wealthy that the term "Keeping up with the Joneses" was coined after them.

Considered a semi-spinster at age 23, Edith consented to marry Edward Robbins Wharton, who was 12 years her senior. Born into a Boston Society family, he was a keen sportsman and shared her love of travel. The couple built a home in Rhode Island called Land's End. Reportedly so ugly, she set about remodelling the home, the efforts documented in her first published book, The Decorating of Houses, in 1897.

By 1902, the Wharton's had moved on to the new artist enclave of Lenox, Mass. and Edith, with the proceeds from her best selling book and also an inheritance from an unknown uncle, was able to design and build The Mount and its gardens according to her own design principles of order, scale and harmony.

The main house was inspired by the 17th Century English Belton House. Three stories on the garden side opens out to a large, raised, stone terrace that overlooks the 112 acre estate. The exterior of the house is white stucco, set off by dark green shutters. Looking closely, you will see that some of the windows are dummies, installed simply to create symmetry and balance for the entire facade.

There is also a Georgian gate house and stables. Edith designed the gardens at the Mount as well, which include a sunken Italian garden, a formal French flower garden, and a rock garden. Her niece, Beatrice Jones Ferrand, designed the sweeping drive as well as the kitchen garden.

While living at The Mount, Edith wrote two of her most famous novels; The House of Mirth, and Ethan Frome. After publishing The Decorating of Houses at age 35, Edith published every year for the next 40.

By 1911, Teddy's severe depression led to the Wharton's marriage break-down after 28 years, and Edith sold The Mount and moved permanently to France. It was soon after her emigration to Paris that she published her Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Age of Innocence.

The Mount has been a boarding school for girls and also the home of Shakespeare and Company. It now has been restyled into a museum dedicated to Edith Wharton. The estate is also available for event rentals and also book reading events. And because of excessive paranormal activity, The Mount also offers "ghost tours" in the summer and fall.


The Mount: 2704 Plunkett Street

Lenox, Massachusetts 01240


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Fearing the empty nest? Don't! Since my children have flown the coup, I have had time to refocus on my passions of travel, art, and writing.  This little blog is a handy tool that helps me share what I have learned with others.


I grew up in the States, but have lived a large chunk of my adult life in the UK. I now split my time between London and South Africa as well as chasing the sun around the world. 


 When my nest emptied, I began to plan my trips according to my own schedule, indulging in going solo. Once one gets used to traveling solo, it can be a very freeing experience. I seek out interesting, informative and unique experiences, and proffer advice with my network of readers.  I also have a lot of fun!


 Spa retreats and personal growth travel are core to what I do.  If there was a master's degree in the art of booking massages, I would be a scholarship student! I also plan to conquer Europe one city break at a time and with all that effort, I need as many beach holidays as possible. 


So please enjoy reading my tales of travel. I hope you are encouraged to get on that plane and perhaps have a few giggles along the way.


When my large family was quite young, we lived in several international postings. In an age before Google Translate,  I negotiated the grocery stores of foreign countries in search of tasty ingredients. I soon became an expert at discerning information from food labels and also learned to cook healthy, quick meals from local sources. 


From this experience, I became quite the foodie, even before 'foodie' was a word. And now as an empty-nester and devotee of food travel networks, I  interpret those old recipes into smaller, even tastier versions. 


Being an editor and food/wine travel columnist,  I travel the world sampling indigenous recipes which I share on Old Bag on a Plane. I also love wine!


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As we are all not traveling much, now would be a great time to share favourite travel, wellness, and food stories. We would love to include your best tales on this blog. If you would like to collaborate, please email us here at oldbagonaplane@gmail.com

Around this time each year, we would create a recap of all our best adventures from the year just passed. As this is 2021, and there were no adventures in 2020, here is a short video montage of all the things we did while we were not doing anything at all.